Spaghetti With Roasted Cauliflower, Tomatoes and Olives
We eat a lot of pasta in this house, this is evident in the number of pasta posts (65) in my blog. According to my husband we don’t eat a lot of pasta, which basically means that we don’t eat it everyday, and in some families twice a day. This said, we still eat it three to four times a week. We love pasta, I love pasta, I love making it and the infinite ways that you can prepare it. When I was living in New York in the early 2000’s, when the Atkins craze was sweeping the nation, I had daymares that it has reached Italy as well and that pasta was going to be a private pleasure for me, with no one to share it with. Fortunately Italians know how to stay thin with the diet that they have followed since the Ancient Romans and don’t think that gorging on bacon and steak is a healthy alternative to pasta.
Spaghetti with Roasted Cauliflower, Tomatoes & Olives
adapted from the New York Times
- 1/2 medium head of cauliflower, broken into florets
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, to taste
- 12 ounces (about 22) cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 12 kalamata olives, pitted and cut in half lengthwise
- 3/4 pound spaghetti
- 2 ounces either feta (crumbled), ricotta salata, Parmesan, or a mix of Parmesan and Pecorino (grated)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine tomatoes, 1 tablespoon oil and 4 minced garlic cloves. Toss well, then spread tomatoes on a baking sheet, cut sides up. Roast until soft and collapsing, about 45 minutes; do not allow to dry or brown.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil and add the cauliflower. Blanch for two minutes and transfer to a bowl of ice water. Drain and blot dry. Cover the pot; you’ll use the water again for the pasta. Quarter the cauliflower florets, toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and salt generously. Transfer to a baking sheet, place in the oven and roast 30 minutes, stirring from time to time, until tender and lightly browned. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a wide, nonstick frying pan or a 3-quart saucepan, heat the remaining oil over medium heat and add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about one minute. Add the tomatoes, sugar, thyme and salt, and bring to a simmer. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring often, until thick, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the cauliflower and the olives, and simmer a few minutes more. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Bring the water back to a rolling boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until the pasta is al dente, usually about 10 minutes. Drain and toss with the cauliflower-tomato mixture. Sprinkle the cheese over the top and serve at once.
Yield: Serves 4
Advance preparation: The recipe can be made through step 2 as far ahead as one day. Keep in the refrigerator overnight, or on the stove for a few hours.
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